Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?
Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren – 1 Corinthians 6:1-8
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” ( – lawyer’s query of Jesus, Luke 10:27-29)
There’s no question in the minds of most people that a divorce petition, whether fault-based or unilateral, constitutes a civil lawsuit that unavoidably pits spouses against each other for property and parental advantage. This is an abomination in God’s sight, if He sees the parties involved as inseverably one-flesh until death by His own hand, as Jesus indicated in Matthew 19:6. No piece of man’s paper has ever overridden this, “from the beginning” (verse 8) and no piece of man’s paper, other than a death certificate, ever will.
It’s also clear that no follower of Christ ever needs the intervention of a pagan court to live a life of reverent obedience to Him, whether or not there has been violation of the marriage covenant, or of the civil-only non-covenant “contract”, as the case may be.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
– 2 Peter 1:2-3
We know this because Paul agreed that covenant spouses may separate for a season in the hopes of reconciliation in such cases, and the historical writings of the 1st-4th century church leaders overwhelmingly bear this out. We also know this because Jesus made clear that man’s divorce is not something God created at all, but a man-made contrivance born of hard-heartedness, greed and lust. This is not stated for any purpose to “condemn” or “throw stones” at any contemporary ministry leader so styling her ministry. This Proverbs 31 Woman has been deeply wounded by the conduct of her husband, and is merely following the Churchianity culture of “reformed” Christendom. She may never have had the unpalatable, undiluted biblical truth faithfully presented to her. Certainly, there’s no shortage out there of famous charlatan “ministries” who fallaciously claim that God either “allowed” or “provided” for the dissolution of holy matrimony in order to “accommodate hard-heartedness”. In her vocation, it’s quite likely that our contemporary Proverbs 31 woman may know a few of these media ministry wolves personally.
Nevertheless, having spent much of last weekend being pelted by indignant Ministers of Churchianity over our post of the breaking news story, SIFC is bracing for the onslaught, while praying for healing of this precious family.
Though many a woman of God fervently hope the gal described in Proverbs 31:10-31 is a composite (and merely an “ideal”) rather than an historical woman, she’s actually described as the mother of a King Lemuel, who is otherwise not mentioned elsewhere in the bible. Since many or most of the Proverbs are ascribed to King Solomon, and the name “Lemuel” literally means, “belonging to God”, it is widely assumed that this biblical queen was actually Bathsheba.
The Reality : What does a trip to “family court” provide?
It’s amazing that so many people who call themselves Christians can tout the bible while saying with a straight face, “God provides for divorce in these situations” or “sometimes divorce is the only solution.” It’s hard to see how the first widely-believed presumption squares with the words of Jesus Christ:
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to [divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. ” – Matthew 19:8
If something “has not been so” from the creation of the world, it seems pretty clear that God had a different provision for whatever is driving His children into the pagan courtrooms. Which leaves us with the other presumption, i.e. that man’s divorce accomplishes something of enduring value, or at least that it lessens human suffering. It should be obvious to all that no piece of paper protects from perceived abuse or actual violence. No piece of paper coming out of today’s “family courts” adequately protects children from the ravages of their parents’ adultery, prevents financial abuse entailed with adultery or accomplishes much of anything virtuous that a biblical separation (1 Cor. 7:11) would not accomplish.
The piece of paper does, however, create a fiction from the perspective of the kingdom of God, that the parties are “free” to marry another while their true spouse is still living — it provides a false patina of cultural “morality”, but is nevertheless profoundly immoral. Man’s divorce does dissolve man’s adulterous pretense called “remarriage”, but only because such was never holy matrimony to begin with. The piece of paper does sometimes seize and transfer assets and parental rights for the benefit of the Petitioner, but we must ask ourselves, how does God look on that?
Is this a biblically-defined covenant marriage per Matt. 19:4-6?
The biblical fact is that Bathsheba did not fit Jesus’ definition of a biblical covenant wife such that she was ever one-flesh with anyone other than her original covenant husband, Uriah the Hittite. David, after all, did not leave father and mother to be joined to Bathsheba. In fact, the only one that is true of is Michal. God even justified David’s recovery of Michal as his one-flesh after she was given in non-covenant marriage to another man, Paltiel. Though the death of Uriah severed the one-flesh union that God originally joined by Jesus’ description, there is no evidence that Michal was deceased when David took any of his many his inferior wives and concubines. Bathsheba was most probably a non-covenant wife under the system of concurrent polygamy that God tolerated in that day. Today’s counterpart, which is most decidedly not tolerated by God, but repeatedly called ongoing adultery by Jesus is consecutive or serial polygamy – non-covenant unions following man’s divorce which, without exception, violate Luke 16:18 and Matthew 19:6 so long as there is a living, estranged spouse on either side.
A covenant marriage is one where a never-married partner or widowed person marries another never-married partner or a widowed person of the opposite sex. In the first instance, there has never been a one-flesh joining by God’s hand with another spouse, and in the other, the one-flesh bond has been broken by the death of one of the spouses, hence can be re-formed by God’s hand with a subsequent spouse. That said, in our complex society where unilateral-divorce-on-demand has been the law of the land for decades, the other circumstantial possibility for a covenant marriage, according the definition Jesus gave in Matthew 19, is between someone who has divorced out of a non-covenant marriage and somebody who is widowed or never-married. In this latter case, the person was never one-flesh due to the inseverable one-flesh state of the person they married. The union was civil-only and no more a marriage in God’s eyes than a “gay marriage”.
It has proven exceptionally difficult to discern the facts in the Terkeurst case from publicly-available records or from Lysa’s many blog writings. At one point, while reading one of her books it seemed that she mentioned being a second wife, but this is not conclusively borne out in the public records. A stander from their state provided us with these details about the Terkeursts, who appear to have an inseverable, one-flesh God-joined union as best we can tell:
“Arthur Dudley Terkeurst III married Lysa Michele King on Dec 5, 1992. She was 23 and he was 26. I searched through the newspapers and records. Could not find another marriage prior to this one. Her mother divorced and remarried.”
However, one of the background searches linked Lysa’s estranged husband, Art with a Sharon L. Terkeurst of Grand Rapids, MI, who is now Sharon L. Porritt, and who is four years older than Art. There is nothing conclusive which is publicly available about how Sharon is connected to Art. All of this sounds rather gossipy, but there is a biblical point of distinction here. If Lysa is indeed the wife of Art’s youth and companion of his marriage covenant, Lysa’s trip through “family court” will dissolve precisely nothing. She will be just as married the day after the ink is dry on the decree as she was when she went to bed on December 5, 1992. While there’s no denying how admirable it has been that she has done much to try and preserve her marriage up to this point, the state of holy matrimony has never been about permission or allowance to “dissolve”, regardless of any crimes of the spouse. Instead, she should have separated from him without a divorce petition, but only if there was physical danger involved in their home, and remained open to reconciliation should he repent.
If on the other hand, Lysa is a second wife whose predecessor is still living, she and Art are not actually married today to begin with, their five children notwithstanding. Her trip into family court will clean up her civil legal status, but the same can be accomplished with a mutually-agreed petition, hopefully arrived at out of court. Even if Art later repents of his alleged alcoholism and extramarital relationships, she should still never reconcile with him as long as his original one-flesh wife is alive, but encourage him to seek reconciliation instead with the wife of his youth. Perhaps one of our readers who follows Lysa’s blogs or ministry more closely will be able to update us on which situation actually applies, based on something she’s shared in the past.
Was the historical Proverbs 31 woman in such a marriage, and what does this mean for the future of that ministry?
It’s a strange schizophrenia of the harlot church of today which considers the act of pursuing civil marriage dissolution a worse sin than the consecutive polygamy (ongoing adultery, as Jesus stated at least 5 times) that typically results from the split. In the days of King David, there may have been “a bill of divorcement” that Jesus and the prophets denounced, but the more typical situation which “legalized” adultery was a man-made system of concurrent polygyny, with greater and lesser wives and concubines. Even so, from the beginning, no man or woman has ever been joined as a one-flesh partner, in the supernatural sense, to more than one living spouse at a time. Hence, the probable original Proverbs 31 woman was actually a lesser wife in that system, though she became the king’s mother. The original Proverbs 31 Woman was not in a Matt. 19:4-6 covenant marriage, most likely.
It should not therefore matter what Lysa’s status in leading this ministry actually is, so long as she stays focused on seeking first the kingdom of God. However, so often today, such prominent women (Joyce Meyer, Dena Johnson, etc.) turn to teaching the unbiblical marriage heresies of the harlot church in their “ministries” because that’s how to stay published in what’s become an industry within the evangelical establishment, and that’s how to retain the largest following and financial security. Go to any dozen “marriage permanence” web pages, and what you’ll invariably see is that the ten pages that admit people who are “standing” for their most recent marriage have tens of thousands more followers than the two that only admit those standing for their true covenant union as defined by Jesus. Right now it’s interesting to watch the duel between those who are slamming her for seeking a civil divorce, and those who assert the fabricated, but widely-believed “biblical exceptions”. That said, carnal Christianity is carnal Christianity, and as the non-covenant Hovinds counted on only a handful of months ago, the furor in evangelicaldom will soon enough die down. If Lysa goes on to find another husband (or find the husband of another), they will all return to one accord, singing the chorus of “biblical exceptions”. Temporally, all of this should tend to boost Lysa’s following, regardless of the moral choices she makes going forward, because her followers cannot see whether the inseverable bond ever existed in the first place, nor whether it continues to exist, because the very idea of a marriage bond that no act of men can sever (Matt. 19:6,8; Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39) is profoundly offensive to most of them.
Going back to the beginning, when Eve decided it would be delicious to be like God in the knowledge of good and evil, when she decided “her God” was surely not a “legalist” — and her husband failed to correct her, both were given curses that extended to their genderkind, respectively, until Jesus came to provide the way to reverse the curse (obeying Him from the heart – Matthew, chapters 5, 6 and 7). Unfortunately, the curse for womankind was “your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” This is how we wound up with humanistic rebellion against lifelong monogamy, both in the rebellion of women against the unconditional authority and headship of their husbands under Christ’s headship. and in the rebellion of their husbands against the seventh commandment in its various forms including: polygyny, concubinage, prostitution, pornography and abandonment. Humanistic cures, including man’s divorce, will never have any effect on these curses because they intrinsically reject the authority of Jesus Christ. Only no-excuses obedience to His commandments will bring relief and restoration from that curse. Of the two biblical “bad girls” that found their way into the blood lineage of Jesus Christ (Rahab the harlot, and Bathsheba the adulteress), both discovered the way to harken to the voice of God in their unions. There is considerable evidence that Bathsheba and David righteously separated toward the end of David’s life, perhaps in repentance, and God orchestrated events such that her son, Solomon, became the king, among all of his non-covenant sons.
In that spirit, we pray that Lysa reconsiders her civil lawsuit against her husband, but and if she does depart, she will remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband, if he is her covenant husband. If he has a prior estranged wife, we pray that Lysa will accept a season of being a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of God, until she has the Lord’s direction for the future of her family.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future. – Proverbs 31:25
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!